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University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Plans $294 Million Research Center in Shadyside

10/28/2011 9:43:16 AM

Kris B. Mamula, Reporter - Pittsburgh Business Times

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center turn a one-time car assembly plant into a gleaming $294 million research center, which will focus on personalized medicine, cancer biology and healthy aging.

UPMC’s Center for Innovative Science will refurbish and expand the historic Ford Motor Co. building on Centre Avenue in Shadyside into a 350,000-square-foot facility. Façade renovations have been underway and the $294 million project is expected to be complete by 2014.

The announcement continues Pittsburgh’s transformation from a steel and industrial giant to a center of advanced education and medicine. The University of Pittsburgh and perhaps Carnegie Mellon University will partner in the project.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center on Thursday announced plans for a $294 million research center in Shadyside, which will focus on the rapidly emerging field of personalized medicine.

The project will create 375 scientific and administrative jobs.

"Through the UPMC Center for Innovative Science, we will bring together leading scientists willing to develop bold new approaches to understanding complex diseases, such as cancer," UPMC President and CEO Jeffrey Romoff said in a prepared statement. "With our investments in good science and smart technology, UPMC is developing new models of patient-focused, accountable care that will transform delivery of health care in Pittsburgh and throughout the world."

There will be no patient treatments at the new facility, but UPMC officials said they want to be able to translate the work being done in the research center into what can be used for patient care elsewhere. The goal clinically is to reduce variability in treatment and eliminate unnecessary treatments.

"This is an example of why we need to be healthy financially," Dr. Steven Shapiro, chief medical and scientific officer at UPMC, said at a news conference Thursday afternoon announcing the research center. "We want to bring together top-caliber scientists."

UPMC bought the building in 2007. UPMC said it would fund conversion of the building for scientific uses and contribute to the center's operating expenses.

Genetics and other factors affect the effectiveness of various medicines, so the Holy Grail for doctors has been pharmaceuticals that are tailored to the individual. In recent years, genetic testing has been used to determine the effectiveness of certain medications in treating stroke and breast cancer, but the field is still considered young.

Carnegie Mellon computer scientists may also play a role at the center.

"We have had interest from private industry," Shapiro said. There is nothing firm right now.

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